Auto review: Two new Toyotas sure to satisfy your soul

Larry Printz, Tribune News Service on

Published in Business News

Toyota has long been America’s favorite automaker, even if it hasn't always topped the sales charts. Certainly, it’s the world’s largest auto manufacturer, a spot once claimed by General Motors. So, when Toyota introduces two new models, it’s certainly big news. Better yet, along with the news came the chance to briefly experience both the 2025 Camry and 2024 Land Cruiser.

2025 Toyota Camry

Midsize sedans are never exciting, and with the ninth-generation Camry, Toyota appears to be facing that reality. Its fairly extensive makeover includes a fresh face and revised mechanicals.

There’s one driveline: Toyota’s fifth-generation hybrid system that debuted in the 2023 Prius. It pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors to produce 225 horsepower with front-wheel drive. Adding a third motor in the rear raises power output to 232 ponies and provides all-wheel drive, the latter being offered on all trims. Last year’s V-6 is no longer offered.

The 2025 Toyota Camry is offered in comfort-oriented LE and XLE trims, or sportier SE and XSE models, with the SE being its most popular trim. All models also come with a revised MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension, although SE and XSE models have a sport-tuned suspension with new shock absorbers and a larger front stabilizer bar.

It also sports a fresh face, wearing Toyota’s new hammerhead front-end design that also debuted on the Toyota Prius. Certainly, it’s an improvement over the challenging kabuki mask face the Camry worn for six years. But look closely; LE and XLEs look different up front from SE and XSEs.

Inside, there’s an all-new interior, with a revised instrument panel with a 7-inch digital instrument cluster on LE and SE models, growing to 12.3-inches on XLE and XSE trims. The instrument panel comes with a standard 8-inch touchscreen or an optional 12.3-inch display with a far better user interface than before. Wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto and Qi wireless charging are standard, as are a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.

There is a clear difference between the Camry’s comfort and sport grades. And while the SE and XSE are more engaging, with far better dynamics overall for 2025, they are still no sport sedans. Extracting a quick burst of power meant flooring the throttle, particularly on hills. While the difference in horsepower may not seem like much, the addition of an electric motor to the rear axle endows the all-wheel-drive models with a far livelier personality. Otherwise, the powertrain seems well-suited to its task.

My brief test drive yielded 38 mpg in a pre-production model, a far cry from Toyota’s claimed 51 mpg. Ultimately, the hybrid powertrain provides adequate performance, but the all-wheel drive version is worth the extra lucre. Expect prices to start at less than $29,000 for the front-wheel-drive LE.


2024 Toyota Land Cruiser

Then there’s the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser, which returns after a two-year absence. Smaller in size and price than before. It boasts the basic rugged, roomy cabin you’d expect, wearing handsome, durable-looking cloth seats and décor that’s functional, not flashy. Large, chunky buttons are easy to use, with the exception of the volume knob, which seems to be the same one used in the Toyota Corolla. An eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, eight-speaker audio system, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard.

The 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser is powered by a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder hybrid driveline mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Output is rated at 326 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. Full-time four-wheel drive is standard. Underneath, you'll find a double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear. Center and rear locking differentials are standard, and the front anti-roll bar can be disconnected by simply touching a button.

If you’ve seen the 2024 Lexus GX, you have a good idea of what the new Land Cruiser looks like, as it shares its boxy greenhouse, low beltline, large windows and square-shouldered styling that offers good outward visibility. This makes placing the corners of the vehicle easy. It also offers the ideal window sill height for resting your arm.

Driving through dirt, gravel, rocks and streams, the new Land Cruiser effortlessly makes off-road work a snap thanks to 8.7 inches of ground clearance, a 31-degree approach angle, 25-degree breakover angle and 22-degree departure angle.

The throttle proves easy to modulate, but off-road warriors will be disappointed by the steering, which takes far too much cranking back and forth with too little to show for it off-road. It’s less noticeable on-road. Well, at least it’s a good upper body workout. Prices start at $55,950.

Both vehicles are impressive for delivering what Toyota always has: a satisfying vehicle that avoids radical changes. There’s little that surprises or delights. It merely pleases, and that’s what Toyota thrives on. It’s what makes these vehicles so ideal. Modern and up-to-date, both the 2025 Toyota Camry and 2024 Land Cruiser should please Toyota loyalists. Others might not be so smitten.

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